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News/Business. Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff, Jeffrey Brown. (2013) The community of Aurora, Colo., reacts to the national debate over gun control. (CC) (Stereo)

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  PBS    PBS News Hour    News/Business. Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff, Jeffrey Brown.   
   (2013) The community of Aurora, Colo., reacts to the national...  

    February 18, 2013
    6:00 - 7:00pm PST  

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>> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. after aurora, after virginia tech, after columbine, the question of gun violence becomes a recurring national conversation. this evening, newshour joins pbs in a week of special coverage on the topic of gun violence: "after newtown." the waves of reaction since december's connecticut school shooting continue to reverberate from coast to coast. >> now! ifill: as gun-control activists push for stricter laws. and gun owners chafe against the prospect of new regulation, crossing for... causing for now an increase in sale in firearms and attendance at gun shows. that dpebt is now spreading well beyond washington as cities and states take steps to distance
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themselves from gun manufacturers. in new york last week, the city school teachers pension fund sold off $13.5 million it held in stock with five gun makers. that followed action in california where the state teachers retirement system also stripped itself of $11.7 million of investments from three gun manufacturers. and the golden state's $254 billion public employees retirement system is also deciding whether to withdraw the $5 million worth of shares it holds in two companies. in chicago, mayor rahm emmanuel focused on banks, asking t.d. bank and bank of america to stop financing gun manufacturers. chicago's gun violence has placed it in the center of the national debate. michelle obama attended the funeral of hadiya pendleton who was shot to death near her school days after marching in the presidential inaugural
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parade and pendleton's parents joined mrs. obama as her guest at the state of the union speech last week. president obama returned to his hometown last week to stress the need for action on gun violence. >> last year there were 443 murders with a firearm on the streets of this city. and 65 of those victims were 18 and under. so that's the equivalent of a newtown every four months. >> ifill: in fact, just hours after the president spoke, 18-year-old janay mcfarland was shot and killed in chicago. her 14-year-old sister destiny warren had attendd the president's speech. the fallout from gun violence has extended to politics, as chicago moves toward next week's special election to fill the congressional seat vacated by jesse jackson jr. >> in the race... fill: a gun-control group financed by new york mayor michael bloomberg has spent more
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than a million dollars on ads attacking candidates there supported by the national rifle association. another group organized by former congresswoman gabrielle giffords and her husband mark kelly is paying for gun control ads airing nationwide. >> what we're going to do is we're going to support people running for office. we're going to oppose others to are unwilling to do something on this issue. i mean we're going to spend money in these races. we are committed to making sure that we have safer schools and safer communities. and the first thing we can do, the thing we can do right now, is to pass a universal criminal background check. >> ifill: in at least 20 states from wyoming to virginia, lawmakers are pushing back. with bills they say will preserve the rights of gun owners. for a closer look at how the politics of gun control is spreading beyond the nation's capital, we turn to newshour political editor christina bellantoni. what is the difference between what we see happening in these state capitals and these city
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halls and the debate we've seen periodically here in washington? >> well, there's a big difference in that state legislatures are all meeting right now most of them are in session. you have governors who want to get on the national stage. you've got a lot of republicans who control state legislatures particularly in the south. they want to strengthen gun freedoms. and then you have aate low of more liberal legislatures controlled by democrats who want to strengthen gun control. so in colorado today we saw a measure where they advanced expanding background checks. they advanced a measure that would limit the number of magazine sales. contrast that with arkansas even though there's a democratic governor there it's a fairly conservative state politically. the governor signed a bill allowing you to carry a concealed weapons in churches and on a college campus. you're seeing a lot of that. at the broader level this pensions issue is where the more liberal democrats are really wanting to get at these gun manufacturers where it hurts financially. >> ifill: let's talk about the pension issue. i remember back in the day that people wanted universities to
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divest on investments in south africa as a way of making a political statement. is that where the battle is now with guns? >> it's interesting when you look at the numbers. the big decision with the new york city school teachers pension program that came last week, this is 13.5 million dollars out of a $46.6 billion fund in total. that's not that much of their fund but it's a much larger number than the others we saw. the california teachers had a smaller number, less than $12 million. calpers talking about $5 million. the california public employees penguin. they're trying to pull that out. you're also seeing efforts coming from the mayors. philadelphia, for example. they passed this sandy hook principals legislation which basically says we want you to adhere to better background checks, more expansive background checks and not selling magazines in certain capacities. we want to make sure that you are supporting those. if you don't we're not going to fund you. >> ifill: in a city like chicago, we saw rahm emmanuel
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say he's going to tell the banks to stop doing things. what leverage does he have? >> very little. one mayor has very little. basically he's saying you can't lend in this case to be able to give money to these gun manufacturers. but at the same time if more and more mayors start to do that, if they're adopting these things we saw it happen at the los angeles city council level. you're seeing it expand rapidly. very similar to what happened with south africa as well. >> ifill: jesse jackson's congressional seat in chicago has become ground zero for lots of reasons but in this particular case when it comes to gun violence, how much is this bloomberg money, mayor mike bloomberg's pac having on this race. >> a billionaire is willing to spend here. he spend $5 million in a democratic contest in california in the fall last year and was able to oust an incumbent, congressman joe bacca and bring in a newcomer to this race. that's similar to what he's trying to do here. he's running against a former member of congress in that ad that we saw in that set-up
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there. he's saying i can spend my money here. i can really effect change in little ways. that's where he wants to make the difference. >> ifill: you look at this and what's happening in philadelph philadelphia. not arkansas. but you see what's happening in colorado. all these different placeses. you wonder to yourself, is the all-powerful n.r.a. taking this lying down or is there a push-back. >> there's a push-back. they say that their members and the broader public don't support these efforts to tighten gun control efforts. you're seeing them spending more money in their own congressional races. with mark kelly they're going to spend a lot of cash in the upcoming 2014 election with house democrats trying to win back control of that chamber. the n.r.a. plans to get involved here. >> ifill: is it too soon to say that this is going to be a major issue on a lot of state agendas this year? >> not at all. i was just looking at numbers from state track. there were 2,319 bills
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introduced just this year. >> ifill: how many? 2,319 bills introduced already. 132 signed relating to guns in general. >> ifill: since january. yes. you're seeing legislatures take on this issue whether it's for it or against it. of course the national debate going. everybody wants to get a piece of that at all. >> ifill: we'll be watching that national debate, of course. we'll be watching the local one as well. christina bellantoni, thank you. >> woodruff: our special reporting project continues online. today we hear from high schoolers around the country who speak about the case for arming teachers, and how violent video games affect their peers. find that on our home page, newshour.pbs.org. still to come on the newshour, to build or not to build the keystone pipeline; the colorado gun debate; hugo chavez returns to venezuela; and the military's invisible war. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: thousands of shiites in pakistan mounted a second day of protests after a
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bombing killed 89 people on saturday. the protests were held in half a dozen cities, urging the army to go after militants who've targeted the country's shiite minority. many relatives of saturday's victims stayed by the bodies of their loved ones and refused to bury them. the attack in quetta was the second mass casualty attack aimed at shiites there in just over a month. al qaeda in iraq took responsibility today for car bombings that killed at least 37 people in baghdad on sunday. the three attacks occurred within minutes of each other, in open air markets of the iraqi capital. in addition to the dead, more than one hundred people were wounded. the bombings came amid rising discord between the shiite-led government and minority sunnis. u.n. investigators said today the time has come for suspected war criminals in syria to face the international criminal court. carla del ponte, a member of a u.n. commission of inquiry, said even if there is ultimately a peace settlement, it must not give a free pass to those accused of atrocities. >> i'm concerned about what he's
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done in the political side to achieve peace and to negotiate peace. what i'm sure that once international justice is dealing with this case, it is no amnesty at all. >> sreenivasan: the commission found the civil war is increasingly sectarian and radicalized on both sides. it also cited the spread of weapons as a growing concern, and urged the international community to curb the flow of arms into syria. another member of the u.s. senate has decided to step aside. republican mike johanns of nebraska announced today he will not seek a second term next year. in a statement, he said he wants to spend more time with his family, after spending 32 of his 62 years in various offices. johanns is the fifth senator to announce plans to retire next year. a hall of fame figure in pro basketball, former los angeles lakers owner jerry buss, died today. he'd battled cancer for months.
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buss ran the lakers for nearly 34 years, and they won ten n.b.a. championships during that time. along the way, he brought in star players from kareem abdul- jabbar to magic johnson to kobe bryant. he was also one of the first owners to create his own cable tv network, and sell the naming rights to his arena. jerry buss was 80 years old. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: and we turn to this weekend's protests and the big debate over the extension of an oil pipeline from canada into the u.s. as the u.s. tries to navigate between clean energy and economic growth, as well as energy dependence versus drilling, the president's upcoming decision is increasingly seen as a crucial test by all sides. >> thousands of people marched on the national mall in washington yesterday, braving a cold winter wind to take part in what organizers called the biggest climate rally in u.s.
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history. they called for president obama to reject the proposed keystone excel oil pipeline. >> the reason i came here today was because i feel like president obama... i feel like if we make a statement with our numbers and our passion that he'll get the message. >> woodruff: the keystone project is designed to move crude oil hundreds of thousands of barrels a day that would be extracted from the oil sands of northern alberta in western canada. the oil would be transported across several u.s. states to refinerees and ports in texas. the company behind the 1700-mile pipeline, trans-canada, has altered the route to largely by-pass a water deposit in nebraska. but protest organizers insisted the pipeline still threatens land it crosses and will mean even greater carbon pollution. >> the president needs to think about what his legacy is going
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to be. 50 years from now, no one is going to care about the fiscal cliff. they're going to ask, the arctic melted in 2012 and then what did you do? and this is the chance to do the right thing. >> woodruff: the keystone project has been pending for more than four years. in 2011, the president called for further study. but supporters of the multibillion dollar pipeline have argued it will create thousands of jobs and reduce reliance on oil from the middle east. last month, 44 republicans in the u.s. senate joined by nine democrats called for the president to approve keystone. mr. obama has given no direct signal about his intentions. but in his state of the union address last week, he promised action on the broader climate issue. >> the last four years our mission of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen. but for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more
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to combat climate change. >> woodruff: to that end, the administration is also mulling tougher rules to curb emissions from coal-fired plants in a push toward cleaner energy. as for keystone, the state department oversees cross-border pipelines and could release its recommendation as early as march. >> woodruff: we have our own debate on the pending decision and the many issues at stake. bob deans is with the n.r.d.c., the natural resources defense council, one of many groups organizing yesterday's protests. and scott segal is a lobbyist and partner with firm of bracewell and guiliani. the firm represents a number of energy companies pushing for the keystone extension. gentlemen, welcome to you both. >> thank you, judy. woodruff: bob deans, let me start with you. what is the main harm done if this pipeline extension happens? >> the main idea here is to take some of the dirtiest oil on the planet, pipe it through the
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bread basket of america so it can be sent overseas out of the gulf of mexico. it's not about american jobs. it's about profits for big oil companies a bad requested that needs to be denied. >> woodruff: if it'sing if through a pipeline what's the concern. >> the cal ma glo river, 30 miles of that river was destroyed two years ago by a pipeline incident using these kinds of crude. it's bad stuff. these accidents do put this heartland at risk. the thousands, hundreds of thousands of jobs, we have a quarter of a million farms and ranches in those great plains states that your map just showed. those are the real jobs in that region. we need to protect them not put them at risk. >> woodruff: you're saying they would be harmed by? >> they would certainly be put at risk by having this tar sands crude going through there. but even more importantly, judy, we talked about climate change. this tar sands crude requires 3 to 4 times the carbon inputs to produce that conventional crude oil does. it's a disaster for climate change. we need to turn it down.
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>> woodruff: he's raising a number of concerns having to do with the oil itself and the impact of the kind of work that would be done to get it out of those tar sands. what do you say in response? >> well, i'm afraid i disagree with most of the discussion that's gone on so far. first of all, if we are truly concerned about carbon, it seems to me building a state-of-the-art pipeline which is the most efficient way to g get... to move oil around, is the best approach. to move that oil to the west and send it to china on tankers that are fueled by diesel, it leaves a much greater carbon footprint. in addition, that oil will make it to the united states, whether there's a keystone pipeline or not. in the event it makes it to the united states it will come by other forms of transportation which are far less energy-efficient, thus deepening that footprint. >> woodruff: you're saying it would go to other countries and then come... >> i would say there are two options. it's either going to go to china or come to the united states. in either event the carbon footprint will be deeper. the further point about whether or not an oil pipeline somehow
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endangers the land which it crosses i think has been asked and answered so many times it's no longer a relevant consideration. look, the map of the united states is literally a spider web of oil and product pipelines. >> woodruff: you're saying already. >> already. the fact of the matter is the chances of sustaining a spill of oil out of an oil pipeline is 1 quarter the amount of alternative forms of transportation were we to take those oil pipelines away and take them in a different mechanism. >> woodruff: bob deans, what about that second point first? there are already so many pipelines in the u.s. and the rate of spills or problems with that is so low. >> well, the reason we have these pipelines is because we've been addicted to fossil fuels for more than a century now we need to turn away from that. we need to begin using less oil. we're using 10% less now than when president obama took office because we're using more renewables. we're more efficient. we need to continue investing and moving in that direction not building more infrastructure to
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support the ruinous fossil fuels of the past that are driving and accelerating this climate disaster. >> woodruff: do you want to respond to that. >> sure. we're using less oil now because we're in a recession. and the hope is, in fact, the number one priority of president obama is that we make an economic recovery and come out of that recession. the notion that we will depend on less efficient forms of energy like solar and wind exclusively or worse yet on energy conservation alone at a time when we're trying to grow ourselves out of a recession is unrealistic, is damaging to economy, and frankly will not be the alternative that will be chosen. we're in an oil-based economy. we should have the type of energy security which allows us to have defendable supply lines and not pay for our oil to those who want to do harm to the united states. >> may i say something? clean energy jobs are now employing 3.1 million americans around the country. that's according to the bureau of labor statistics. these jobs have grown almost out of nowhere over the past decade at a time when we've lost 4.5
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million manufacturing jobs. these jobs have been a bright spot in a tough economy for three million american families. >> woodruff: let me ask you about the other points he's raised. one is that the oil, if it doesn't come through this pipeline, it's going to eventually get to the u.s. anyway. it's going to come through potentially dirtier sources that use more or spend more carbon. the other argument that, if the u.s. doesn't use this oil it's going to go to other countries anyway. it's going to get used somewhere on the planet. >> here's the thing. these tar sands are in the forest one of the last wild places on the planet. we've already destroyed, made an industrial wasteland out of a part of that forest the size of chicago. that needs to stop. alberta, where these tar sands are, is a long way from shanghai. that oil is not going to china unless it goes out of the west coast of canada. they won't build a pipeline there because the canadian people don't want it crossing their farms, their salmon streams, their native lands.
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we respect that. >> the canadians have already said they are in favor of a pipeline. the problem is not what the canadian pollity. the problem here is is with a few elite environmentalist organizations that are trying to stop 20,000 jobs in construction, trying to stop a multiplier effect of many more jobs in the manufacturing sector and $20 billion net contribution to the u.s. economy. all for very specious environmental and safety concerns. >> judy, complete nonsense. we had 0-some thousand people from all over the country assembled by the washington monument yet and marched to the people's house the white house. i talked to these people. i was out there. there were people from new orleans. they had come up from louisiana. there were people from maine. there were people from nebraska. there were people from all over this country and from all walks of life. farmers, students, businessmen, folks who are saying we need to turn away from the fossil fuels of the past, invest in efficiency and renewables and build a 21st century economy on new fuels and...
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>> many, many, many more work in industry in the 20 industrial sectors which are energy intensive and trade exposed in the country that depend on the reliable and affordable supplies of energy. even the steelworkers who were opposed to this at one point now appear to be coming round and are likely to support the pipeline because they know the steel itself is sourced here in the united states. >> woodruff: let me finally ask you both. what's at stake ultimately here, scott segal, if this pipeline is not built in your view? >> well, in my view the united states loses on the energy security front. the united states loses on the job creation front. the united states gains absolutely nothing from either a global climate change or a protection of wild areas because we already have a dependence on these pipelines and a significant network of them. all that happens is the president becomes embarrassed in front of our number one trading partner the canadians, and all for no net benefit. >> woodruff: and what's at stake from your pe perspective? >> the climate. judy we just finishd the hottest
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year on round in this country. we lost 50% of our corn across the heartland, 60% of our pasture lands. we had ranchers liquidating their herds from the rocky mountains to the ohio river valley because they couldn't afford to feed their cattle anymore. we lost 130 americans, we did $80 million worth of damage just from hurricane sandy. we have a crisis. this climate chaos needs to end. that's a conversation we can have with our friends in canada because they're working like we are to reduce their carbon footprint. they're working like we are to improve their renewables and to do more with less. we need to partner around that and create jobs and a future in canada and the i didn't. we're going to do it. >> woodruff: the debate over this pipeline extension goes on. we thank you both for being here with us tonight. bob deans, scott segal, we appreciate it. >> thank you. ifill: more on >> ifill: as we heard earlier, legislation designed to curb gun violence is being hotly debated
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here in washington, and in some statehouses and city halls around the country. in fact, lawmakers in colorado, the site of past mass shootings in aurora and columbine, took up new legislation today. tonight we look at how communities there are reacting to all this. special correspondent megan verlee from colorado public radio has our report. >> just amazing guy. reporter: jessica watts has known firsthand the tragedy of gun violence. last july her cousin was gunned down in the aurora theater shooting that killed 11 others. but that wasn't the first random shooting to touch her life. in 1999, her husband, a student at columbine high school, had to flee as 12 classmates and one teacher were killed by two students with rifles. then in 2006, a 16-year-old family friend was killed in an attack by a gunman at a high school in the small mountain town of bailey just west of denver. >> she had just turned 16... reporter: men meant owes of
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this violence are scattered around her house and the metro area. >> always a reminder in this city where so much tragedy has happened. >> reporter: watts said never in her life had she really thought about gun policy or becoming politically involved. but the aurora shooting combined with the massacre in newtown connecticut spurred her to action. >> that was something positive to put my mind and energy towards so that i wasn't, you know, necessarily drowning in sorrow all the time. >> reporter: these days watts is advocating for gun-control bills at both the federal and state level. >> gun violence is destroying our families and communities. taking our loved ones and we have had enough. >> reporter: earlier this month she was there at the colorado state house when democrats unveiled broad package of gun bills. many of the proposals are familiar from the federal gun debate. a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, universal
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backgrounds checks, and more emphasis on getting mental health warnings into the background check system. >> i'm here to tell you now that enough is enough, and the time is now. >> reporter: state representative rhonda fields is one of the lead sponsors of the bills. like watts, her political activism was spurred by a personal connection to violence. seven years ago her son was gun down in the streets of aurora. then this summer she got a middle of the night call about the mass shooting in her district. >> we went into this grief mode, in this disbelief mode. i would say the initial month was, you know, attending memorial services and dealing with the loss. then shortly after that when all the cameras left, that's when the real work began in reference to what can we do? >> reporter: while fields supports all of the gun-control measures she says extending background checks to private sales is perhaps the most important. >> if we can keep the guns out of the hands of criminals i think that's where we can make our greatest impact. with the background check,
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felons won't be able to get access to a gun from a private seller. if you're mentally ill or if you are a domestic abuser, you will not have access to a gun unless you take a c.b.i. check. i think it closes that loophole. i think that's a good hinge the. >> reporter: democrats control both chambers of colorado state legislature and the governor's office. so their proposals face better odds than president obama's do in congress. but with the ink still wet on the bill draft, the gun-control debate has switched into overdrive in colorado. ( cheers and applause ) it's been more than a decade since colorado legislators passed any new restrictions on gun ownership. even the columbine attack failed to provoke new policies. and the state's gun rights groups are working to make sure it stays that way >> we're going to oppose these. we're going to work very hard to defeat them all >> reporter: dudley brown heads the group rocky mountain gun owners >> i think the question for the democrat caucus is are you really ready to stake the 2014 elections on the gun issue.
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because the democrat party has done that before. and paid the price. with the 94 congress and they're going to pay the price again >> reporter: brown says his numbers are calling and mailing lawmakers. even republicans are feeling the heat >> nationally it's a big issue. here in colorado we have the aurora shooting which certainly brought up the attention for everyone >> reporter: republicans like state senator kevinlundberg have their own proposals. they've introduced bills to pressure businesses into allowing concealed weapons on their property and to let some teachers carry guns. >> if somebody comes in armed intending on harm and starts to pull the trigger, somebody needs to be able to stop them now. commendable at the aurora shooting that the police were there in a matter of a minute or two. but where we need to fix it, it's before the trigger is pulled. it's the deterrence that occurs when the bad guy knows there are good guys probably in that room
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that can defend and stop any, you know, any assault that owe durs. >> that's spectacular reporter: for those who make a living from the firearms business, the most troubling proposals are the ones that try to ban certain weapons or size of magazines. richard taylor manages the firing line shooting range and gun shop in aurora, locationed less than a mile from last summer's theater attack. he says the proposed legislation at both the federal and state level will be both intrusive and ineffective >> just a feel-good, knee-jerk reaction to some of these awful incidents that have happened. is it going to stop anything from happening? absolutely not. the only people that are really going to be affected by any of this legislation are law-abiding citizens. the criminals don't care already. why is it going to affect them? it's not. >> reporter: if there is any middle ground in the gun legislation debate, it may be over how to prevent severely mentally ill persons from obtaining guns. >> the one thing that everybody has been missing about on the
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finally they've started to talk about since newtown is the mental health issue and aspect of it. nearly all of these unfortunate incidents, there have been indications and signs that the person who has actually perpetrated these has been under pressure, has been, you know, mentally affected in some way. and i think that's the major thing that we need to look at >> reporter: but not everyone agrees. state senatorlundberg says that with studies showing nearly 50% of americans at some point seek mental health treatment, he worries restrictions may be overly broad >> when it comes to the mental health part, nobody denies that there needs to be a proper system for helping people who really need the help. but then the question is, where is that line where it crosses over where everybody ends up on some sort of list and somehow we all become mentally deficient somehow by their standards? well, i'm sorry, that doesn't fit. >> it's a knock-off of an ak47 variant of what is called a
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sniper rifle >> reporter: aurora resident and gun collector says he has another middle-ground idea. license gun owners >> really what i think it comes down to is that if you have to have a license to drive and you have to have a license to even catch a fish, not too much to ask that you have a license to carry a gun >> reporter: he's trying to get politicians to focus on gun owners not on guns. essentially he wants to extend the concealed carry permit system where people have to take a class and pass a test. with more training required for higher much powered weapons. he says it avoids one of the problems that the n.r.a. complains about: gun registration. >> you're not registering your ammo. you're not registering your gun. you're not giving up any serial numbers. i could be buying a thousand guns. it doesn't matter. because the government shouldn't know what guns, who has what guns and where >> reporter: well burrow s is trying to get his sweeping idea in front of policy makers, one man who already has their ear has a much simpler wrd
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>> i think a lot more can be done to enforce existing gun laws >> reporter: aurora police chief daniel oats became the city's public face in the days after theater attack. at a recent meeting with president obama and attorney general eric holder he pushed federal prosecutors to get tougher on people caught with guns and so-called straw purchasers who buy them the guns in the first place >> resources that the department of justice puts those towards prosecutions at this time are nowhere near as rigorous as we would like. nearly all our street violence in the denver-aurora metro area involves folks who already have felony convictions and have guns in their possession that they shouldn't have. if there was more certainty of punishment for violating that federal gun law, there would be likely less of those offenses. >> reporter: in the divisive atmosphere of the gun debate, that may be one of the easiest tasks to accomplish. both sides at the federal and
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state level say they know the coming months won't be easy. but they will be critical. >> this is an issue people care about because it has to do with their rights. it has to do with their safety. it has to do with the overall peace in our communities. people care very deeply about all of those things. and rightly so >> there's this fear that if you go after gun legislation or gun reform or if you go after the n.r.a., that it's going to mean that you'll get primaried in an election or they're going to force people not to vote for you. i think that's a false fear because i think to be a legislator it takes bold and courageous leadership. we should do things not based on public or special interest. we should do things that's right for our community. >> reporter: colorado democrats are moving their bills quickly. final action is expected in the next week or two.
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>> ifill: as concealed carry background check and magazine limit bills make their way through state houses in colorado, arkansas and elsewhere, pbs's special "after newtown" coverage continues tomorrow. join us for a report from geoffrey brown on the concerns about the possible impact of ever more violent video games. you can watch a sneak preview on our website. tuesday night two documentaries. gun in america explores the nation's long history of firearms from the earliest settlers to today's political battle. plus raising adam lanza on front line. investigates the newtown gunman, his mother and the town he changed forever. >> woodruff: there was surprising news for many venezuelans this morning as they got word that their leader hugo chavez, who had been away from his country for months, had returned there in the middle of the night. ray suarez reports.
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>> suarez: venezuela's minister of information proclaimed the news on state television. president hugo chavez had returned. >> congratulationses to the venezuelan people for the strength and maturity you have had during all of these days of companionship and solidarity with chavez >> suarez: the fiery leftist leader seen in these photographs from friday had spent more than two months in cuba for cancer treatment. the photos showed chavez, his two daughters, and that day's newspaper as if to quash rumors that he had died. but today unlike previous returns from medical visits to cuba, there were no images of his early morning home coming. still supporters celebrated outside the military hospital where the 58-year-old chavez is continuing treatment. >> venezuela waits for you with open arms, my commandte. we love you. we want you.
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there's an entire population that will support you always >> suarez: and chavez in his first direct communication with the world since departing for cuba updated his followers via twitter. "we have returned to the venezuela fatherland. thank you, my god. thank you, my beloved people. we will continue the treatment here." he added, "i remain attached to christ and trusting in my nurses and doctors." and he echoed the words of cuba's man: onward to victory forever. we will live and we will conquer. meanwhile opposition leaders continued to criticize the secrecy surrounding the president's health. he won re-election in october and had been slated to be sworn in again in january, but the country's supreme court ruled the inauguration could be postponed until his health improved. that led to questions about who was actually running the oil-rich nation. chavez's main opponent in the last election who accused the government of lying about
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chavez's condition said today he hopes that now the government can refocus on the challenges facing the country. >> during the last few weeks, the only thing we have heard from them are insuls, words of hate which are making venezuelans turn against each other. i also hope the return of the president means that the country is going to begin to know that things will be spoken of truthfully. furthermore to dedicate our time and energy to what is important. >> suarez: no specifics were given today on chavez's current state of recovery. or when he might officially be sworn in to his new term in office. i'm joined by the bureau chief for the associated press. he's taken smiling photographs, he's flown home. he's tweeting his followers. at long last to venezuelans have any more idea than they had before what's wrong with hugo chavez, how sick he is, what the nature of his recurrence was,
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anything? >> no they don't. those are key questions. it's not really clear what type of treatment he's continuing to receive. the government has said that the treatments are extremely complex and tough. but beyond that, it's not known what type of treatments they are. >> suarez: is the venezuelan state sort of frank about the fact that they're treating hugo chavez's illness as a state secret? >> well, the government says it's been giving frequent updates about chavez's health and the opposition says that much more information should be given about his health. considering the seriousness of the situation. so it becomes one more political argument in this country. in the meantime, everything is up in the air. for many venezuelans it's a wait-and-see type situation >> suarez: the president is still said to enjoy widespread support in the country. what do regular people say in shops, in cafes, in the supermarkets, about what's going on with their president? >> well, i think, you know, there are some people saying on both sides of the divide here
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that they would like to know more about, you know, specifically what chavez has, what stage his cancer is at, at this point, and what his condition involves and what his treatment involves at this moment. you're hearing that from both chavez supporters and from opponents. and i think there's a pretty widespread feeling that the way things are moving right now, it's some sort of resolution is likely to happen relatively soon. >> suarez: here's a man who has been out of the country for more than two months. in his absence, has the government had to make some painful and unpopular decisions? >> yes, the government announced an evaluation while chavez was away. they said that was a decision that was consulled with them. of course it was a decision that many experts thought that the government might put off for a bit longer precisely because it is rather controversial decision
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that was criticized by the main opposition leader. >> suarez: did the prices of oil consumer goods immediately rise once that evaluation was announced? >> no, they didn't. and the reason for that is a bit complicated. but it's basic allegation that the government is sort of easing in to the devaluation by allowing some purchases of certain goods that were already approved through the government currency agency for a limited time because they were already approved that those purchases can be made and those dollars can be made available. that is lessening somewhat the immediate impact on inflation although inflation is already at 22% and most economists say they think it's likely to be pushed higher as a result of the devaluation. >> suarez: who would you say is really running the country right now? is it the head of the national assembly, the vice president, a group of leaders of the chavez party? who is in charge? >> well, if you ask the
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government that question, president chavez continues to be in charge. of course the vice president has taken on many additional responsibilities while chavez has been away. and that question is one that i think many people are asking themselves now in venezuela. who is really in charge? and how is this likely to evolve? >> suarez: does the return of the president really settle anything in? >> i don't think it settles anything until it's clear what's likely to happen both with chavez's health and with the political situation in the country. they're both big question marks for many people. >> suarez: has the opposition which so recently lost to the president in his re-election bid been more open about calling for a reexamination? >> a reexamination? well, the opposition has been quite consistent in saying that more information should be given to the public about chavez's
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condition, that there should be a medical report and that the people should know precisely what he has, what the outlook is and what the required treatments are at this stage. >> suarez: ian james of the associated press, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. >> ifill: sexual assault within the u.s. military has been the subject of scandals, studies, and a recent congressional hearing. but the topic is thoroughly investigated and dramatically presented in the documentary, "the invisible war," which has been nominated for an academy award. jeffrey brown recently talked with its director. first, a brief excerpt from the film. what we hear again and again from soldiers who have been raped is that as bad as it was being raped, what was as bad if not worse was to receive
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professional retaliation in their chosen career merely because they were raped. >> when you report something, you better be prepared for the repercussions >> if a man is accused of rape it's a set-up. the woman is lying. i could choose to report it but if they found out what i was saying wasn't to be truthful, then i would be reduced in rank. >> you could lose your rate. rank. your school. if you file a false report. so do you want to file a report? (laughing) >> my friend catching him raping me they still don't believe me >> they reported it two different times to my squad leader. he told me that there was nothing he can do about it because they didn't have any proof >> they actually did charge me with adultery. i wasn't married. he was. >> they took me before my lieutenant commander.
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he said, do you think this is funny? and i said what do you mean? he's like is this all a joke to you? i was like what do you mean? he goes you're the third girl to report rape this week. like we're all in cahoots. he thought it was a game. >> brown: the film which will be shown on the pbs series leon panetta announced new policies including a requirement for unit commanders to hand over investigations to senior officers and the establishment of special victims' units within each branch of the military. the director of the invisible war is kirby dick, a veteran film maker whose other documentaries include outrage and this film is not yet rated. he joins us now. welcome >> thank you for having me brown: we've known this is a problem for a long time but how pervasive is it? >> it's extremely extensive. according to the department of de's own estimates more than 19,000 men and women are
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sexually assaulted each year in the u.s. military. if you multiply that times the decades this has been going on there's over 500,000 perhaps even close to a million men and women have been sexually asauled over the last three generations >> brown: the problem that you showed and we really saw it in that excerpt is not only does it happens but the ugliness afterwards, right? the women themselves are often persecuted >> exactly. only 86% of men and women who are sexually assaulted in the military don't report. it's exactly for those reasons. they experience reprisals that are in many ways a second betrayal that is worse than the actual rape itself. >> brown: sometimes they have to report it to the perpetrator >> right. brown: their commanding officer >> right brown: or a friend of the perpetrator >> exactly. and oftentimes they have to remain in that unit. and they have to work beside their assailant. >> brown: the film opens and the women we just saw there, it opens with a sequence of women talking about why they join the military. these are all women that loved
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what they were doing. right? they loved the military and still do in many ways. >> oh, yes. absolutely. these are all patriotic women and men who are in our film. i mean, these are people who wanted a career in the military. what's interesting is even after all this happened to them and they still wish they had a career in the military. i mean these are people... these are the kind of people we want in our military. >> brown: now, these are very personal stories. tell me about the process as a film maker of how did you find these women. how did you get them to talk? >> well it was a real challenge to find them because, as you can see, the last time they spoke out they experienced such horrible reprisals. we reached out through all different kinds of sources actually ended up contacting well over 100 and actually interviewing more than 50. and these interviews were, for me, certainly the most intense and personal interviews that i've ever been involved in. my producer, amy zering actually did most of the interviews. i felt it was appropriate
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because it was a woman to a woman. in many cases these subjects were telling us their story, telling us a story that they had not told anybody else ever before. >> brown: can you give me an anecdote just to show how hard this was >> there was a time with one of the lead subject in our film where she, when we sat down to do the interview she said listen my husband is in the other room. the reason he's there is i haven't told him that i was raped. i told him i was sexually assaulted. i didn't want him to bear that burden. they're very close and they're still together but this goes to show that it's not only the person who is raped who is experiencing this trauma. it's actually the family and the extended family. >> brown: did you go through the military to find any of these women? what were your dealing s with the military while filming or creating the movie? >> for the most part we were not working with the military at all. we were working actually sort of underground, if you will. we do have an opportunity to talk to several people within the pentagon and what we found
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we were very disappointed by was that they weren't taking the steps that they really needed to take to address this problem. >> brown: is this for you an act of... is it journalism? is it art? i mean it's film making. how do you see what your doing? >> well, i guess i see myself as an artist. but as an artist i think you take on the greatest challenge you can. to put all these things together, the art, film making, journalism into one, i see it as an artistic enterprise but at the same time, of course, when you're dealing with this kind of subject, you have to be very journalistically precise which we were. but it's a challenge. i mean this film was being made actually for two audiences. one was for the film making audience. it's been very successful. it was nominated for academy award. it's won many audience awards but it was also made for policy makers in washington d.c. >> brown: you had them in mind absolutely. i remember cut by cut we'd be thinking, this will play to an audience but maybe in this case
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we want it to play more to a policy maker because when we were doing these interviews and they were just devastating, we sort of had this commitment really to make a film that could change this. so men and women in the future wouldn't be assaulted in our military. >> brown: i know several of your films have that quality of exposing wrongs. something draws you to that. >> it's dramatic as a film maker obviously. it's an opportunity, documentary film makers have real opportunities now because of the cutbacks in investigative journalism across the country. there are many fewer investigative journalists which is unfortunate for the country but actually provides more opportunities and actually i think a responsibility in many ways to documentary film maker >> brown: i never real he'll thought about. that's our industry. you're right. i mean there are far fewer investigative, far less investigative journalism going on. you see yourself as stepping into that breach >> to some degree, yes, absolutely. >> brown: now we're speaking soon after the pentagon has announced that women will soon be able to serve in combat.
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there was a recent hearing on sexual harassment. and assault in congress. there have been some steps lately. you end the film with leon panetta saying that, well, at least taking some action, right? is it your sense that something has changed, something is beginning to happen in this area? >> absolutely. there's been some very important first steps but what they haven't done and they absolutely have to do is to take the decision to investigate and prosecute these crimes out of the chain command. the military is fighting very hard on this. but this is something that would actually improve the process of investigation and prosecution and would remove a conflict of interest. and that's really the next step. >> brown: the film is the invisible war. kirby dick. thanks so much. >> thank you. woodruff: extraordinary piece of reporting. i recently joined the documentary's filmmakers panel
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and a panel of lawmakers and experts who weighed in on the culture of rape in the military. you can read about that discussion on our web site. there, too, you can watch the trailer for "the invisible war," plus excerpts from the film. all week, we're talking to the directors nominated for oscars in the best documentary feature category. you'll find those conversations on "art beat." >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day. the state house in colorado passed new curbs on guns in the latest fallout from the school shootings in newtown, connecticut. thousands of shiites in pakistan mounted a second day of protests after a bombing killed 89 people on saturday. venezuelan president hugo chavez made a surprise return to his country after more than two months of cancer treatment in cuba. online, how a mouthwatering mollusk has inspired medicine. hari sreenivasan has the story. >> suarez: mussels, those hard- shelled bi-valves that taste great with white wine, are also being tapped by scientists for their sticking power. turns out their grip has inspired an adhesive that could be used in surgery. read more about it on our
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science page. and on "ask larry" this week, how to maximize disability benefits. that's on "making sense." and be a part of our coverage. share your story about the voting rights act of 1965. go to our web site or call 703- 594-6pbs for details. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. gwen? >> woodruff: and again, to our honor roll of american service personnel killed in the afghanistan conflict. we add them as their deaths are made official and photographs become available. here, in silence, are six more.
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>> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, we'll look at the debate over violent video games and violent behavior. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway.
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>> macarthur foundation. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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captioning sponsored by wpbt >> this is n.b.r. >> susie: good evening, everyone. i'm susie gharib. whether it's time or money, philanthropy or helping others, it's an investment, and americans gave more than $350 billion to charity last year. >> tom: good evening. i'm tom hudson. from everyday americans to the nation's richest people and companies, we look at what influences giving. >> susie: and we head to chicago to learn about social impact bonds funding non-profits and letting american investors change the world with their decisions. >> tom: that and more tonight on a special edition here of "n.b.r."
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>> susie: with the financial markets closed for presidents' day, we bring you tonight an "n.b.r." special edition: "conscious capital." it's our look at philanthropic spending and investing in others. americans gave more than $350 billion to non-profits last year, and half of that came from the wealthiest americans. so, what influences their giving? ruben ramirez gets some answers. >> reporter: it's another typical school day at truman high school in the bronx. the cooking class is busy in the kitchen. ( singing ) the choir is rehearsing. the astronomy class is learning about stars. but it wasn't always like this. real estate developer charles bendit met truman high principal sana nasser a decade ago through a non-profit called pencil. it connects business people who want to volunteer with schools in their communities. >> i was a small businessman that was just getting started. i was just beginning to realize

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